Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino) is a marvelous example of what can be accomplished when you buck the trend and defy the odds. As a black citizen of America, the deck continues to stack against him but he takes matters into his own hands and controls his own destiny.
Hilarity ensues: Gambino on the small screen
Donald Glover was hand-selected by Tina Fey to begin writing for “30 Rock” while he was 23 and attending New York University. She found him thanks in part to his script version of the Simpsons and through viral moments captured on video with groups like Hammerkatz and Derrick Comedy. This was during the infancy stages of YouTube’s inception and Glover’s comedic output performed very well on the platform. The former Freaks and Geeks actor would go onto act in five seasons as Troy Barnes in the show, “Community.” During his stint on “Community,” Glover would meet Ludwig Goransson and the two developed a close collaborative relationship that affected music, comedy and screenplays from Glover’s corner.
Glover has been proclaimed as the most prolific creator of his generation. This recognition and praise did not always stick alongside his name, though. His first album, “Camp” had many gimmicky and cringe-worthy lines which led it to be very poorly received in industry circles. Of course, this album was released under the stage name, “Childish Gambino” which Glover adopted as a result of a Wu Tang Clan Name Generator. Camp was released under Glassnote Records and did not receive much acclaim whatsoever.
Gambino would go on to release additional albums such as “Royalty” and “Because The Internet.” These projects showed slight improvement and were tolerated within the hip-hop industry but not appreciated. It was not until the past couple of years that Gambino really began to receive mentions within the most powerful and impactful circles of hip-hop music and entertainment period. It is fair to say that when Glover came in contact with the creative artist and videographer Hiro Murai, he began to look at his approach through a much more sophisticated lens.
Murai directed the video for Childish Gambino’s hit single, “3005” but more importantly he is the guiding force behind the powerhouse series, “Atlanta.” Donald Glover took several unconventional turns en route to an illustrious career. With that being said, this television production took his efforts to the next level and gave black people a show that they could intellectually identify with. Glover created the show and plays the main character, Earn Marks who dropped out of an Ivy League school to manage his cousin, “Paper Boi” and the facets of his music career. The show is undeniably brilliant and was just picked up for its third season in conjunction with FX.
Since the release of “Atlanta,” hip-hop connoisseurs began to completely shift their perception of Donald Glover. The magnitude and quality of “Atlanta” opened new doors for Glover and provided him with immense amounts of credibility. This show allowed his music to be important and iconic and Glover realized this and completely flipped the script on everyone who tuned in to his efforts.
Gambino: “Awaken My Love”
Many fans were curious as to when Glover would release new music as a nearly five-year hiatus occurred before any new material surfaced. That was until Gambino graced the immersive set of Pharos Experience in Joshua’s Tree, California to preview new songs from his impending album. His third studio album, “Awaken My Love” changed his musical trajectory entirely. Before, Gambino relied upon utilizing tools of irony and charisma through mention of nerdy pop culture references and comedic gimmicks. On this album, he gifted the masses with a masterpiece. Putting out a collection of songs seemingly drenched in 70’s funk and persuasive in nature, Awaken stands the true test of time. Gambino showcases his strengths as an auteur genius who thrives under the guise of climactic falsetto to aptly fill the margins of the music. This album release served as a crucial pivot for the artist as he wrote about themes of race and delivered the lines with conviction and a great balance between clever and wittiness.
Awaken laid the groundwork for Gambino to start taking a stance on political issues in the Trump era. A few years after his magnum opus hit the airwaves, Glover stole the show with his “This Is America” single and music video. The song is a dark societal critique of America who Glover depicts as too distracted to recognize severe problems that are taking place. The song went onto win Song of the Year and Record of the Year at the Grammy’s which Glover refrained from attendance. It served as a conversation catalyst around the fact that guns are a perpetual and necessary element within our American society. It mainly focused on the fact that America is full of violence and contradictions because capitalism leads to conspicuous consumption – one of them being an appetite for violence.
He has hinted at, “Awaken My Love” being his last album ever recorded. He is a firm believer in the notion that endings are an important part of the progress process. He has definitely portrayed a great deal of characters and is a testament to the vast improvement humans are able to make over a course of a lifetime. He has done more in one decade than some people do in an entire lifetime. Recently, he has played the role of Simba in the new CGI version of Lion King, Lando in Star Wars and also starred in an Amazon short titled, “Guava Island” with Rihanna. Although seemingly retired, for now, there is something that indicates this will not be the last that we hear from Donald Glover and his commanding presence.